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Lori Wyman
Why Actors Should Be Paid
| Friday, 01.05.2018, 11:32 PM |   (6805 views)

Why Actors Should Be Paid

By Lori S. Wyman, CSA

I send out a newsletter to the people on my list and this is an article that I recently sent out. I feel it is really worthwhile that you all know about this information, so I will copy this to you and add a few more stories just to drive the point home. I entitled the article, “Are you getting paid what you are supposed to?” Please read on and take in all of this knowledge as it may save you many thousands of dollars.
Are you getting paid every time you work? Are you getting paid even when you don't work, but you were booked? Is the client paying your agent? Is your agent paying you?

This week during my weekly Master Class, the subject of getting paid came up. I want to impart some of the words of wisdom I discussed with my class as I think they are really important for anyone to know who is working as an actor.

First of all, when you book a job you must know how much you are supposed to get paid. Is your job union, non-union, or maybe print? Are you getting the agency fee over and above your rate? When you show up to the set make darn sure you get a contract to sign and get a copy of that contract before you leave the set. Sometimes there is no one to make a copy of your contract for you so then what are you supposed to do? AHHHHHH you have this wonderful invention called a cell phone and it has a camera on it. So, guess what? You can take a photo of the front AND the back of EACH page of your contract, voucher, release whatever they give you to sign. I also highly recommend that you get the name of another talent on the set so you can keep in touch in case you don't get paid. You can compare notes and make sure you both get paid what you are owed. There is strength in numbers, so if more than one of you is calling the client, you should get results.

I had cast a non-union commercial several years ago. I cast 14 principal speaking roles on that job. After it was all over I sent my casting invoice. When a month had gone by, I began to call the production company to see where my payment was. The person on the other end of the line was very nasty and essentially hung up on me. Uh oh! I knew I was in trouble. As you can well imagine, the production company closed their doors taking my casting fee and ALL of the talent’s fees along with them. I started calling all of the talent to see if anyone had a copy of their contract. Out of 14 actors, only 1 actor had a copy of his contract. He had recently taken a class with me and remembered what I had said about always having a copy of your contract when you leave set. I started reading the contract to see if there were any loopholes anywhere that could get us all paid. I FOUND IT! Right there, about 2/3 of the way down, I read the one line that was going to get us all paid. I called the advertising agency and explained what was going on and then I reminded them that THEY were responsible for getting everyone paid otherwise they were not allowed to run that commercial. The girl on the other end of the line was devastated. You see, they had already paid the production company and they were supposed to pay me, and all of the actors. Instead, they STOLE all of the money, filed bankruptcy, and flew to coup, so to speak. When I explained that in order to get the talent release to run the commercial, they had to PAY the talent, she freaked out. BUT guess what? We all got paid. If that ONE actor had not had a copy of the contract, then I never would have known the rules of the contract, and no one would have gotten paid.

If your job is union (SAG-AFTRA) you had better know the union rules. Make sure your agent knows the rules, also. I shared a story in my class about an actor who had booked a union job and was owed 2 more weeks than he was paid for. I told him to call his agent. He did. He called them numerous times and he told them to call the Union. They did NOT call. So after many weeks I told him to call the union himself. He did and he got 2 whole week’s salary, which was in the many thousands of dollars. I have story after story like this, but the bottom line is that you, as the actor, MUST be in charge of your own career. I have seen such injustices when it comes to actors getting their financial compensation. Do you know that if a union job cancels you after 12 Noon the day before a shoot, you are supposed to be paid? Did you know that if the part gets written out after you have booked you do not get paid, BUT if production decides they'd rather have another actor than you, then you do get paid? Do you know anything about drop and pick up during a production? That's a pretty long explanation, so I can't really go into it here, but I gave it during my class last night and it's an important concept to understand.

Do you know how to tell if you are a principal in a commercial after you have been booked as an extra? Well you should, because I had an actor who booked an extra role and when he contacted the union about his upgrade, he then made an additional more than $12,000. I could easily go on and on, but it is your responsibility to know about these things so you don't get ripped off.

If you don’t know how to protect your finances when working as an actor, consult the experts to help you. I offer a service called “Pick Lori Wyman’s Brain.” You can sit with me via Skype or in person for a period of time and get each and every one of your questions answered.

If you’d rather take an auditioning class and get your questions answered while soaking up lots of great auditioning skills,,

Lori S. Wyman, M.S., C.S.A. is dedicated to helping actors pursue their passions so they can live their dreams. Traveling all over the country, Lori draws industry beginners and professionals to hear her expertise on the subject of Auditioning for Film and Television projects. Lori has recently been the Florida Casting Director on Netflix’ Bloodline, HBO’s Baller$, Graceland, Burn Notice, The Glades, Magic City, Pain & Gain, Iron Man 3, Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2, Every Witch Way, and too many more to list.

 She recently completed her Master’s Degree with a concentration in Drama Therapy. She tackled this in order to help actors overcome Audition Anxiety as she sees this as one of the major obstacles facing actors during their castings.

 Lori’s Book: The Organic Actor: Insider’s Secrets to Auditioning for Film and Television is widely acclaimed and a “must have” for any actor who intends to make Film and Television acting a part of their acting career.

 Lori has been in casting in Florida since 1979. She has been nominated for 5 Artios Awards for projects including “Dexter,” “Pain and Gain,” and “Bloodline,” and has 1 Emmy nomination. She is an Artios Award winner for the acclaimed HBO movie, “Recount.”

Lori's office is located in North Miami Beach, Florida, but she travels all over the Southeast for casting projects. She can e reached at

Lori Wyman

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